Cheering up girls to take up sports
Badminton doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa, who with Jwala Gutta became the first Indian women pair to win a medal at the World Championships They have also won many medals in international events including a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2011
Badminton doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa, who with Jwala Gutta became the first Indian women pair to win a medal at the World Championships. They have also won many medals in international events including a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (2011).
Ashwini is now rallying for first ever-exclusive women’s doubles tournament in the country, Red Bull Shuttle Up, which will be held in five cities including Hyderabad.
About the concept behind the tourney, the shuttler says, “Doubles has been my event and in particular women’s doubles in badminton has been my event. It always starts with something that is dear to you and and I want to encourage young girls to take up the event.
I think in India we have a lot of pairs in mixed doubles and in men’s doubles too. Women’s doubles event is the area where we have to focus; this is just a start and the bigger picture would be to ultimately have a professional women’s doubles stock, which would encourage all our players to go together to get a league system.
And, as I said earlier this is just a start and I am happy that finally, something has come out of it. This tourney encourages young girls, especially from grassroots to take up sports and have fun.”
“Doubles is a team event and a lot of understanding is required to work together as a team. When Jwala and I won the gold medal in CWG, it made a huge impact and many girls took up the sport as the popularity of the game increased. I have seen the game grow; however, we have to go a long way in the women’s doubles category.”
Ashwini states that today’s youngsters are focusing and switching to doubles at a younger age. “We now have specialist coaches just for doubles and that has helped to improve the standards of play. There is a better understanding between partners and many youngsters are taking up doubles from an early age, which is a great sign. However, we don’t train our athletes to play doubles from a young age.”
Speaking about the difference between doubles and singles Ashwini informs, “It takes time, work, understanding to get in rhythm with your partner. The more tournaments you play you get better in doubles as you understand your partner well. Initially, everyone focuses on playing single. Doubles needs more expertise, playing doubles for fun is easy but when you are training it is different, your workout is different, routines on the court are different.
As a doubles player, I wouldn’t be able to play singles as much as I would love to, as my training is different. As a singles player, you can still manage because you cover a lesser part of the court. Sindhu has a good idea about doubles and she can play this format too. All of us started as a singles player, I never dreamt of becoming a doubles specialist.
Growing up I played doubles for fun, as singles is the main event and doubles is for fun, but I did well in doubles. After joining the national camp, I switched from singles to doubles and I wouldn’t say I was the happiest at that point of time but now when I look back I am glad I did, and doubles is always dear to me.”
The biggest sporting event Olympics is just a year away and it is a dream for every athlete to bag a medal for the country. About her preparation for Olympics 2020, Ashwini says, “We all are working very hard with a determination to win medals at the upcoming Olympics and I definitely want to win a medal and make our country proud.”
“I can be in Bengaluru, where my husband lives, but I am here in Hyderabad, training for Olympics and now all the focus is winning a medal in Olympics,” she states.